Preparedness for Children

Emergency Kit Checklist for Families

Before an emergency strikes, be sure to build an emergency preparedness kit for your family. Build the kit to fit your family’s unique needs and update the kit regularly. Below are some additional things to consider adding to your kit when preparing for an emergency:

  • Comfort Items: Stuffed animal, doll, pacifier or blanket
  • Personal Hygiene Products: Baby wipes, diapers, nursing pads
  • Children’s Activities: Books, puzzles, games
  • Infant Nutrition: Nursing supplies, formula, pre-packaged baby food
  • Medical Needs: Infant/child fever reducer, rash ointment

Build a Communications Plan

Be sure to include your children in your emergency planning process. Discuss where your family will meet if separated during an emergency, as well as how you will keep in contact.

  • Family Meeting Place: Pick a safe, easily-identifiable spot to meet if separated, such as a local school or library.
  • Out of Town Emergency Contact: Include the contact information of a trusted person, who would not be affected by the current emergency.
  • In Case of Emergency Contact: Cell phones should have an “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) programmed into their contacts. Teach children to understand what this means.
  • Include Texting: Text messages are a great way to get in contact with each other during an emergency, when phone lines may be overwhelmed. Consider creating a family group text message so that you can streamline the process of notifying your loved ones you are safe. 
  • Understand Childcare Emergency Plans: Ensure your child’s caregivers (school, daycare) have a plan for what your child is supposed to do in case of an emergency or severe weather incident.

Once your family is out of harm’s way, children may still be frightened or confused. Here are some tips to help comfort them:

  • Limit TV time: Intense media coverage of disasters can frighten young children.
  • Listen: Discuss your child’s concerns about the situation.
  • Comfort: Let them know their safety is your top priority.
  • Be aware: Changes in sleeping, eating and other behaviors can indicate distress.  Seek professional support and counseling if they persist.
  • Make time: Help kids understand they’re safe and secure by talking, playing and other family activities.
  • Remain Calm: Your child will learn how to deal with these events from you. Demonstrating calmness will help keep children more calm.
  • Care: Make a point of showing sensitivity toward other families impacted by the disaster.
  • Routine: Help your children return to normal activities including school, sports and play groups.
  • Volunteer: Helping others can give your child a sense of control, security and empathy

For more information on preparing children for emergencies please see: FEMA’s Ready Kids .